Friday, 16 September 2016

Mt. Kangchenjunga, a treacherous peak for the mountain climbers

On Kanchenjunga (Photo: courtesy Love Raj Singh

Mount Kanchenjunga.
Climbing Mt. Kangchenjunga, also spelled  Mt. Kanchenjunga, is not that easy and is wrought with a lot of dangers - snow avalanches, wide, deep crevices, unstable slopes, inclement weather, etc. It was further plagued by a standard, direct  route that would safely take the climbers to the summit, with minimum risk. With no proper direction, every ascent from one base to the next one had to be well planned and executed when the weather was favorable. The place is prone to snow avalanches.  It is believed the ascent is  deadlier than Mt. Everest. That  several decades  had passed by before  it was finally scaled  in 1955 is itself a proof how difficult the assault on the peak is. The successful team at last made it to the top after a long and grueling climb, lasting a month and 10 days.

It was in 1905 first international climbing attempt was made on Kangchenjunga  and it proved to be futile as the team had to encounter the dangers of a snow avalanche. First attempt was made by a group of trail blazers and explorers in 1853. They could reach the top of a neighboring mountain - 19000 feet as the weather condition was so bad they had to give up their attempt.  Thanks to better gear and technology and new techniques of mountaineering, on the Kangchenjunga  expedition, the fatality rate has come down recently. Death rates since the 1990s have reached as high as 22 percent. Only 187 climbers have summited  Kangchenjunga.

Kangchenjunga  also spelled Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, lies partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim, India; altitude:  8,586 m (28,169 ft)  above MSL. It is  about 128 km (80 mi) east of Mount Everest, the highest peak  in the world.

Kangchenjunga is the second highest mountain of the Himalayas after Mount Everest and  the highest mountain in India. The easternmost  part of the  mountains  is higher than 8,000 m (26,000 ft) than other areas.  Tagged as  "Five Treasures of Snow "after its five high peaks,  people living in Sikkim and  eastern part of W. Bengal Darjeeling attach divinity  and  worship them.

With the advent of The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India established  at the initiative of George Everest under colonial rule in 1849, it was concluded with firm support from the geodetic survey  that Mount Everest, known as Peak XV at the time, was the highest. Upon further verification of all calculations, it was officially declared in 1856 that Mt. Kangchenjunga is the third highest mountain in the world. Until 1852, Kangchenjunga was considered to be the highest mountain in the world.
About IMA Kanchenjunga
It was  on 25 May 1955  Joe Brown and George Band, members of a British expedition to  Kangchenjunga  first climbed the peak. As mentioned earlier, it was a treacherous assault and the most difficult one. There was neither  direct route nor proper guidance. On the last assault, every ascent was like a death trap. Because of well planning and favorable weather condition prevailing at that time on the high mountain top, the team emerged victorious. As requested by the ruler of Sikkim - the Chogyal, they stopped their assault short of the summit so that the top of the mountain would remain inviolate. Since their first successful expedition, several climbers and groups have followed the same tradition upon reaching a point closer to  the summit.
Kangchenjunga is the official spelling  first adopted by Douglas Freshfield, A. M. Kellas, and the Royal Geographical Society and it has  Tibetan roots, meaning "The five treasures of the high snow" Local Lhopo people believe that the treasures  like gold precious stones, sacred scriptures, invincible armor or ammunition, grain and medicine are hidden  in these peaks  and only a devout could lay his arms on them when the world is facing doom.

The Mt. Kangchenjunga has geographically a complex terrain and its trans-boundary landscape is shared by Bhutan, China, India and Nepal. It en composes  14 protected areas with a total of 6,032 km2 (2,329 sq mi). Snow leopard, Asian black bear, red panda, white-bellied musk deer, blood pheasant and chestnut-breasted partridge  have protected habitats.

First winter ascent  was made on 11 January 1986 by Jerzy Kukuczka and Krzysztof Wielicki).